January 4, 2013

“Op-Ed: Harry Reid’s filibuster plan and the Supreme Court”

ObamaCare was famously foisted onto Americans with no Republican support.  And if Harry Reid and the progressives have their way, this will become the rule, not the exception — with the biggest impact coming in a fundamental transformation of the Court, the final step needed by progressives to deconstruct the Constitution while appearing to play by its rules, and to (in the short term) implement the fundamental transformation Obama desires, with the long-term view that uprooting the foundational changes made will be near impossible.

Steven Duffield, writing in the Washington Examiner [my emphases]:

The Senate is a unique legislative body that protects the rights of individual senators both to debate and to amend. These rights are valued so highly that it takes a supermajority — today, 60 votes — to deny fellow senators those rights. This higher vote threshold and the prospect of extended debate encourage deliberation, compromise and moderation.

Many Senate liberals want to gut this long-standing protection for minorities. Buried in the Reid Plan is a new rule, the “standing filibuster requirement,” that will allow a partisan majority to shut off deliberation and pass legislation by a bare majority. Disguised as a debate-promoting measure, this new plan is actually just a mechanism to eliminate the higher vote threshold that has long been required to proceed to final passage of bills and nominations.

This spells the effective end to minority rights in the Senate. Today’s 60-vote bar to end debate will be gone, and the Senate will be transformed into President Obama’s rubber stamp.

Making matters worse, Reid plans to impose his plan by breaking Senate rules with the “nuclear option,” a parliamentary trick that will explode any lingering comity among senators. Once the nuclear option is deployed to impose the Reid Plan, it is far more likely to be used again and again to undermine minority rights. This pattern will ultimately make the Senate a mirror image of the House.

The most dramatic impact of the Reid Plan will be with regard to the Supreme Court, where the House of Representatives plays no constitutional role. President Obama will likely fill between one and three Supreme Court vacancies in the next four years, and he will be under enormous pressure from his base to nominate doctrinaire liberals who will reverse the decision upholding the partial-birth abortion ban, weaken personal liberties protected in the Bill of Rights, and eliminate the modest limitations on congressional power that the Rehnquist and Roberts courts have restored.

Senate conservatives will strongly oppose such a nominee. Conservatives already used their rights to extend debate to effectively block lower-court nominees such as “living Constitution” advocate Goodwin Liu and the highly controversial Caitlin Halligan. Each will be on the president’s shortlist for the Supreme Court. Yet if the Reid Plan is in effect, senators will be powerless to prevent the appointment of Liu, Halligan or similar judicial activists, because the 60-vote threshold will be gone and Obama’s party will just fall in line behind his choice.

The future of the Supreme Court isn’t the only thing at stake. While it’s unlikely that liberals will gain control of the House any time soon, it is not out of the question that Obama could command a unified, one-party government in his last two years. Under Reid’s new rules, the president could pass any legislation he wanted without negotiating with conservatives and taking their views into account. That means higher taxes, more spending, bigger government and no chance of entitlement reform.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has promised massive resistance to the Reid gambit, but he will need public support. Americans should be asking themselves if they want to make it easier for Congress to rubber-stamp the president’s whims, or if deliberative democracy and minority rights still matter.

Let’s cut right to the chase here: what Reid is doing is using the Senate to undermine the House, to make moot minority party resistance, and to create a de facto dictatorship that apes the appearance of a representative republic.

And the left then plans to use Court appointments to give the whole effort legal cover and the imprimatur of the High Court.

The best part is?   They believe — with good reason — that most Americans won’t know or won’t care about the importance of such a move.  The Democrats will simply talk about “gridlock” and “getting things done,” then count on the masses to echo that same cry, and the feckless GOP, so worried about appearances, to eventually fold.

It can happen here.  In fact, it is.

The question is, what are we prepared to do about it?

(h/t geoff B)





Posted by Jeff G. @ 12:38pm

Comments (15)

  1. Most of the new class of Senate Democratic freshmen say filibuster reform should require senators to actually hold the floor and debate if they want to block legislation.

    Seven new Democrats voiced support Thursday for instituting the so-called talking filibuster rule as the core component of reform.

    And the children shall lead them.

  2. While it’s unlikely that liberals will gain control of the House any time soon, it is not out of the question that Obama could command a unified, one-party government in his last two years.

    In my view Obama already has this in hand de facto.

    Before 2010 there were supposedly four main groups of Representatives. Conservative Republicans, Rockefeller [RINO] Republicans, Progressive/liberal [Yellow Dog] Democrats, and “Conservative” [Blue Dog] Democrats. To pass something required at least two groups to vote for it.

    I said supposedly because in actuality the “Blue Dogs” were controlled by the leadership which was “Yellow” and were allowed to vote against the leadership only with the permission of the leader.

    To gain back the House in 2006 Pelosi recruited many “Blue Dogs” to run against Republicans saying they were more conservative that the [R]. That worked and worked again in 2008. In the 2008-2010 session to pass Obamacare she broke the “Blue Dogs” and made them heel to her. This got Obamacare passed and also meant that in 2010 Republican conservatives won out and the “Blue Dogs” mostly disappeared so that the Democrats became a single Progressive/liberal group.

    This means in the House there are now only three groups and the Prog-Dem/RINO coalition can now pass anything which they can agree on which Obama and the Senate Democrats send over. In the de facto sense Obama has his one Party government already as soon as Reid “nukes” the Senate. In 2014 they plan to make it de jure and never lose it again.

  3. It will get worse before it gets better. But it will get better, one day.

  4. I have been assured that Obama will be unlikely to have any affect on the Supreme Court because the most likely justices needing replacement will be the justices that are already left leaning.

    Personally, I’m not much comforted by the argument.

  5. I’m sorry, but I can’t help thinking that if the Republicans had been lessed concerned about comity and more concerned about promoting their agenda (back when they had one), they’d have pulled the trigger on the nuclear option back when the nuclear option was a bad thing. Because it was, ya know, nuclear. Had they shone some balls at the time, they might not be looking permanent minority status in the face.

    And frankly, that’s their best case scenario these days.

  6. Had they shone some balls at the time, they might not be looking permanent minority status in the face.

    ‘Cuz of the unfounded implications…

  7. Hail Caesar!

    Hail the Roman Senate!

  8. President Obama will likely fill between one and three Supreme Court vacancies in the next four years…

    King Putt appoints only 1 to 3 Justices? Ha! How about 5? An 11-Justice Supreme Court, anyone? If the Reid Coup Plan goes through, what is there to prevent it? When FDR tried to stack the Court, even the Democrats in the Senate objected. Now, they’d applaud it.

  9. The panic and confusion once people realize that American life will only get worse, not better, interests me. I’m curious how the lowered paycheck plays out.

  10. Hail Caesar!
    Hail the Roman Senate!

    Bob, you said a mouthful; an ominous mouthful:

    [B]ased on his study of eight great civilizations, [Spengler thought] that the process of decline carries with it a surge of imperial fervor and a flight toward Caesarism. Hegemonic impulses come to the fore along with forms of dictatorship. …. This phase, which Spengler calls the civilizational phase, can last a couple centuries, and the question Americans face today, looking at the world through the Spenglerian prism, is whether their country, as leader of the West, is in the process of embracing these elements of Spengler’s civilizational phase.

    (by way of Glenn Reynolds)

  11. The Imperator was originally supposed to manage the empire, not Rome. Or so Augustus said.

  12. Princeps

    Imperator was too close to Dictator

    that is, to close to the truth.

  13. Funny, the Dems were all about the filibuster when Robert Byrd was trying to stop the 1964 Civil Rights Bill.

  14. If I were Obama, I wouldn’t necessarily be counting on support from the Praetorian Guard.

  15. SBP, just why do you think Obama is arranging for things like the “zero tolerance for alcohol” in the USMC, not to mention things like sequestration and “gays in the military”?

    He wants to weed out as many of the conservative and religious military personnel as possible. I worked a contract involving the USMC for the last three years, at both Pendleton and Quantico. When “gays in the military” went through, lots of the Marines I worked with started thinking about leaving, and judging by the resumes I get and other evidence, a lot of them have.

    He won’t have an effective “field force”, but what he’s interested in is a “regime protection force”, and he may get it.